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Apple Asks 9th Circ. To Stay Anti-Steering Injunction Pending SCOTUS Appeal

 |  July 4, 2023

On Monday, Apple announced its intention to request the U.S. Supreme Court to review a judge’s order in an antitrust case initiated by Epic Games, the creator of “Fortnite.” The outcome of this case could potentially lead to changes in Apple’s payment practices within the App Store.

Apple said in a court filing it will ask the justices to take up its appeal of a ruling on Friday by the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that kept in place most of the order issued in 2021 by US District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers.

According to the judge’s order, Apple is not allowed to restrict developers from including links and buttons to payment options in their apps that redirect consumers outside of the App Store. This could potentially result in a decrease in sales commissions received by Apple.

In 2020, Epic filed a lawsuit against Apple for alleged anti-competitive practices. This came after Apple removed Fortnite from its App Store due a new update that allowed players buy V-Bucks directly from Epic, bypassing Apple’s 30% transaction fee.

Related: US Court Denies Apple, Epic Rehearing Appeal Of Antitrust Ruling

In 2021, the US district court of California ruled on Epic’s claims against Apple. While nine of the claims were rejected, the court ruled in favor of Epic on the issue of anti-steering practices. As a result, Apple was ordered to enable developers to offer alternative payment options.

Both Apple and Epic filed appeals to the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld the initial ruling. Subsequently, both companies lodged further appeals, but Reuters reported that the Ninth Circuit dismissed them on Friday (June 30).

Apple contended that the application of a universal injunction by the court in the case involving Epic, characterized as an “individual, non-representative plaintiff,” was erroneous. Additionally, Apple argued that the Ninth Circuit’s decision to issue a nationwide injunction was inappropriate, considering the case’s origin in California.

The ruling raises significant questions regarding the extent of a federal court’s authority to issue injunctions that affect companies indirectly involved in the case.